Shields celebrate league title in style

North Shields players and fans celebration with the Ebac Northern League Division Two trophy. Picture by Ian Warde.
North Shields players and fans celebration with the Ebac Northern League Division Two trophy. Picture by Ian Warde.

Already assured of pole position the Robins produced a champion performance to overcome their nearest contenders in front of a bumper Good Friday crowd at the Daren Perrson stadium.

It was the opening and showpiece fixture in the Northern League Easter groundhop and attracted a staggering attendance of 1,312 who cheered throughout then enthused triumphantly as North Shields skipper Kevin Hughes was presented with the Championship trophy.

There was a warm atmosphere created as Graham Fenton’s Shields lads again turned on the style.

Visitors West Allotment Celtic with Shields legend Wilf Keilty, as assistant boss, sportingly assembled a Guard of Honour as the table toppers took the field.

Allotment included former Shields hot shot Robbie Nolan in their starting line up whilst midfielder David Henderson, winger Chris Douglas and keeper Ryan Beal all turned out against their former club.

Shields were once more lacking 55 goal man Gareth Bainbridge but fellow prolific front runner Dan Smart returned after injury to take a place on the bench.

Match winners at South Shields seven days earlier, Dean Walker and Dean Holmes again led the line.

Determined full back Joe Elliott produced the first of a number of storming sorties into the area and was only inches off target whilst a Michael Tait header was only a whisker away.

Still on level terms after early escapes Allotment displayed resolve and a Michael Bell effort clipped the woodwork.

Michael Robinson donning the home gloves, the club’s longest serving player, excelled with a superb save to thwart Bell.

The ground erupted when the hosts opened the scoring in the 40th minute when Kieran Wrightson beat Beal with a fierce drive.

Only one side looked likely to earn the second-half plaudits and a breathtaking move ended with Tait cleverly backheeling into the path of Holmes who rifled sweetly home.

A majestic run by Adam Forster almost brought a third but 13 minutes from the whistle it was all over, the icing on the cake supplied by Smart with a delicious 35-yard curler past an unsuspecting Beal.

Allotment never gave up and Nolan missed from close range and Bell again tested Robinson but the 90 minutes ended amid rapturous congratulations from the Shields faithful.

North Shields: M Robinson, Elliott, McKeown, Forster (Donnison 78), Parker, Hughes, Holmes, Tait (Grey 71), Walker, Richardson, Wrightson (Smart 46). Subs (not used): P Robinson, Courtney. West Allotment Celtic: Beal, Pendlebury, Dummett (Reid 55), Dunn, Stoneman, Little, Douglas, Henderson, Nolan, Bell (Lancaster 75), Hudson (Lee 75). Subs (not used) Dormand, Bannon.

North Shields, with one game to play at Darlington RA on Saturday (kick-off 3pm at Brinkburn Road), have now amassed 100 points and scored 140 goals, only conceding 31 including 20 clean sheets. Boss Graham Fenton said: “It’s been a fantastic season. Only three defeats in 41 games says it all. I have a good staff round me and a grand set of players with great camaraderie.”